If you want a really well-equipped Android smartphone these days, you often need big hands and big pockets. But what about those of us who want a phone we can use with one hand? Enter the Zenfone 8 from Asus, a flagship smartphone kept deliberately compact. Design and hardware The spec sheet lists a rather small footprint of 148mm by 68.5mm by 8.9mm. For comparison: Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra measures 165.1mm by 75.6mm by 8.9mm, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max measures 160.8mm by 78.1mm by 7.4mm. But this compact size hardly means any compromises in everyday use. This phone has everything you’d expect from a flagship in 2021: Qualcomm’s top-end Snapdragon 888 processor, up to 256GB of memory and 6GB to 16GB of RAM, depending on how much you want to pay. The latest WLAN 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 versions are also available, as is 5G. The 5.9-inch AMOLED display makes a good impression at first glance. Everything looks sharp and richly coloured. The reason for this is the high pixel density of 446 pixels per inch at a resolution of 1,080 x 2,400 pixels. Sony Xperia 1 III review: first phone with 4K 120Hz OLED screen Together with the high luminosity of 700 nits (up to 1,100 in some scenarios), HDR10+ and variable refresh rate of up to 120 hertz, this looks really good. The display also houses a blazingly fast fingerprint sensor. There are two things the Zenfone 8 has that are now rare in premium smartphones: a headphone jack and a notification LED. What it doesn’t have: a slot for memory cards and the option of wireless charging. Asus argues that would make the phone too thick. While we’re nitpicking: in the default settings, the display is so sensitive that it constantly detects finger inputs when you’re carrying it in a trouser pocket. In practice, this leads to many unsuccessful attempts to unlock the phone, which can even lead to your Outlook account being deleted. If you do buy this phone, you’d be well advised to go straight to the advanced settings and turn on pocket mode. Wireless charging and an SD card slot – those are things some of us will be able to live without. But one thing that’s unusual for a top model is the use of just two camera lenses. Software and features The Zenfone 8’s camera is comprised of a main shooter (wide-angle and 64MP) and an ultra-wide-angle lens (12MP), both from Sony. On a phone this size, there’s no space for a zoom lens, it seems. And yet what looks small and inconspicuous actually shoots razor-sharp and colour-accurate photos during the day. At night, the software kicks in and smooths out a lot, which can lead to image noise. In everyday use, the cameras cut a fine figure. The many shooting modes and manual settings are helpful. The focus is fast and Asus’ own photo gallery has all the necessary tools. Those who need more can use the Google Photos app, which is also installed. What you should not expect is a camera experience like that of dedicated camera phones like the iPhone 12 Pro Max or Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. However, they easily cost twice as much. Performance and battery life The phone ships with Android 11 installed and Asus’ own skin called ZenUI. Overall, Asus additions to Google’s operating system are minimal, but practical – from one-hand mode to power management. Security updates came regularly during the test period, and Asus is promising updates for the next two Android versions at the time the device was presented. The only sticking point for long-term users could be the 4,000mAh battery, which you’ll easily be able to kill with a day’s heavy use. Of course, larger devices have the edge here. However, if you only occasionally use the Zenfone 8, you can easily manage two to three days between charges. Conclusion The Zenfone 8 is small, but only when you compare it to the absurdly large competition models, which are almost small tablets. But the concept works. This is a one-handed smartphone with the latest top-of-the-line hardware, a good camera and an ample battery. If you’re looking for a top Android phone that doesn’t require two hands to use and its own bag to carry, then you’ll find it in the Zenfone 8. What’s more, for the already well-equipped basic version with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, the low price also plays a big role: just under €600 (US$710), and HK$5,198 at Fortress in Hong Kong.